1. Why do women get belly casts done during pregnancy?
A lot of women chose belly casting to preserve a moment in time that won’t be repeated again. Even if they were to get a cast done of another pregnancy, the cast they chose to get on that day at that hour represents a moment frozen in time. It is really a beautiful reminder, post-pregnancy, to look at.
2. How did you get into belly casting?
A doula I worked with was very artistic and used to handle all the belly casting. She passed away and I felt the need to carry on the art. It is great to have an arts and crafts project to work on for myself, but I love to work with the shapes and curves. It is almost sacred to work on these casts for “my moms”.
3. What area(s) of the body are typically cast?
That is entirely up to the client. People have had just their bellies done – some have had from their shoulder to their thigh done. The bigger the cast, the more challenging the work for me. I am always up for a challenge! It is important for the mom to realize some areas (like wrapping around shoulders and thighs) are more difficult and delicate and may not “work” in the final process.
4. What exactly is the process?
I sit down with each mom prior to casting, ask what they envision and work with their budget. After I have a good idea of what they want we proceed with the actual casting. I ask that they use Vaseline to cover all the parts of their body I am going to cast so it comes off easily in the end. If they want the cast to dip on the lower belly or thigh areas I really recommend shaving those areas as some hair may get pulled off. When applying the Vaseline, I tell them to pay special attention to their navel and nipples.
5. Is the process uncomfortable?
It is messy but not uncomfortable. I used medical grade gauze with the plaster already in it so it is much stronger than the kits you can buy on line.
6. How long does it take?
I work very quickly since the plaster dries in about 10 to 15 minutes and starts to separate from the skin. I precut all the strips of plastered gauze. The better the mom holds still and the better prepared I am makes for a faster casting process. The clean up is the long part.
7. What chemicals or materials are used on the body?
Aside from Vaseline or another petroleum based topical and the plaster nothing else is used. If the mom has concerns about the dust from the dry gauze being inhaled she can wear a surgical mask, but this option has never been utilized by my clients.
8. What should one look for when trying to find someone to cast their belly?
Someone with experience. Ask a lot of questions! Ask if the artist about pricing so you are not surprised about hidden costs. Be sure to ask if you are just getting an impression or if the person casting you is going to reinforce the plaster and deliver the cast back to you at a later date. Thoroughly discuss design options and ideas, but in the end realize this is a fun process. You can always decorate the cast yourself. There are several images on the internet to get insipred by!
9. What do you do with the cast once its complete?
Many clients hang the cast in the nursery (I advise against hanging it over the crib or changing table; some casts are very heavy due to size and may injure your baby if it falls off the wall.) Some moms like to decorate the cast themselves with the new baby’s footprints or have a decoupage project. The possibilities are endless. The only limit is your imagination.
10. Is there a process for preservation?
I seal all the casts with clear gesso but like a cast you would get if you broke an arm (before the fiberglass casts) they do have a shelf life. Once you are done displaying the cast, I would recommend wrapping the cast in acid free paper and storing it in an air tight container (box or bag). The basement or attic are bad choices unless they are finished portions of your home. Extreme temperatures and humidity increases the risks of degradation.
Jennifer Mossholder has been a certified doula since 2003 and has extensive hospital and birth center experience. She has encountered every situation from natural midwife births to OR Cesarean birth. An Associate Member of PALM; Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Midwives, a Member of the American Pregnancy Association, Chapter Co-Leader of ICAN of Southeastern Pennsylvania and she serves on the Steering Committee at the Bryn Mawr Birth Center. She is also a frequent contributor to CAPPA Quarterly and The Expectant Mothers’ Guide.
Jenn just celebrated her 100th birth in December 2009! www.DOULAMOM.com